our week in review — 29 may 2013

Wow, this week has really gotten away from me.  It seemed to spill over into this week with the holiday weekend.  Last week marked the end of school for the older kids.  Taryn and Hayden finished up their finals and haven’t looked back.  There were parties aplenty so we didn’t see much of them. 

Hailey participated in her school’s talent show and did an awesome job.  She’s quite the performer. ImageTo mark the last day of school, we took a field trip to the Arizona Science Center.  Thomas overcame his fear of the talking skinless human body thanks to Heavenly Father.  The night before we went, he explained to me how afraid he was and that he didn’t want to go.  I suggested we pray about it.  When I asked him about it the next evening, he told me that Heavenly Father granted him his wish.  I tried to explain that Heavenly Father doesn’t really grant wishes as much as he gives us blessings, but he wanted nothing to do with that.  Oh well, as long as he knows it comes from Heavenly Father.

ImageWheelchair Racing


Muffa on a bed of nails


Super strong Thomas

Greg spent the week finishing up our north 40 project.  We now have a beautiful front yard full of poop. 

ImageSaturday we decided to get our of our comfort zone and attend the Phoenix March Against Monsanto.  We joined with over 250 cities around the world to call attention to the perils of genetically modified foods.  If you haven’t done your research, you may want to.  It’s bad news. 


We had a lovely Memorial Day spent with family and friends and a quick trip to the pool.  Here’s to the start of summer.  Hurray.


millions of peaches, peaches for free


On Sunday, a brother in our ward announced in High Priests that he and his wife were headed out of town and that they had peaches that needed to be picked.  Anyone willing to pick them could have them.  We were all over that.  So last night we picked a bunch of peaches.  We’ll probably head back tonight.  The best part was that as we were driving away, Thomas was in the back singing — you got it — Peaches by Presidents of the Unites States of America.  Enjoy.


thinking about year two

This school year hasn’t even come to a close yet, but my mind is already racing with things I need to do to get ready for August when we start our second official year of homeschooling.  I’ve learned a lot over this past year and high on the list is pick the right curriculum.   I should say curricula as I haven’t seem to find a one size fits all ready made program.  Mind you I’m not holding my breath.

I have a ton of respect for those out there that can put together a whole school year worth of activities based on reading books, field trips and pinterest.  Not me man — I need structure.  I’m taking some leaps this year with some of our subjects.  I sure hope it works out.  So here’s the plan for next year based on the classical education model.

Thomas — Year 2


Math-U-See Beta

(Although I am disappointed that they are aligning with Common Core, I really like the program.  I’m going to stick with it for now anyway.)

Spelling, Grammar, and Writing

All About Spelling Level 1

I’ve heard great things about this program.  I won’t bore you again with how much we didn’t like our phonics program this year.  It was so bad though that we are completely starting over.  Boo.

Growing with Grammar Level 2

Love, love, love this book.  We just finished Level 1 today.  Thomas can’t wait to start Level 2.  (Seriously)

The Complete Writer

In general, I like Susan Wise Bauer.  I’m hoping this will be a good fit for us.


50 Famous Stories Retold

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare

Wind in the Willows

Pilgrim’s Progress

These pretty much speak for themselves.  I’m not expecting the boys to get all the ins and outs of the plots, but just introduce them to great literature.  Hopefully as they get older, they will revisit the classics.

History and Geography

The Story of the World Volume 2

I considered switching to another history program, but Thomas enjoys our reading time together and so do I.  We supplement with other books when he gets really interested in a subject like Romulus and Remus.  I think we read just about every book we could find on the subject.  King Minos and the Minotaur was another one.  I think we’ll stick with the series and perhaps go with something else when we start at the beginning of time again.


God’s Design for Science

Totally new program for us.  I’m a little nervous as it costs a TON of money.  Well for us anyway.  Although it should carry us through our 8th year.  I hope we like it.


Prima Latin

Don’t get all crazy.  Thomas actually wants to learn Latin.  He wants to be able to talk with Julius Caesar.  I kid you not.


Still working on this one — I’ll keep you posted.  Until then, I’m open for suggestions.


Meet the Great Composers

Story of the Orchestra

We kind of did a little music last year, but nothing formal.  I felt like having a full load for Thomas the first year may be a bit much.  This I think he can handle if we work on it once a week.  He already knows a ton because of his orchestra fetish, so it should be totally enjoyable for him rather than work.

Gospel Study

Discover the Book of Mormon

Halfway through the year I found this series.  LOVE IT.  Read from the reader or watch the video, read an actual verse from the Bible, answer some questions and maybe color a picture or play a game.  Hurray — no more journalling.  The last thing I want is for our gospel study time to be boring.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is awesome and wonderful.  So should our study of it be.

We’re going to continue along with the seminary schedule.  This year we covered the New Testament so we’re moving on the the Book of Mormon.  Too bad they don’t have Book of Mormon Veggie Tales.  Just kidding — well sorta.

Physical Education

I know there are programs out there, but I think at this point I am just going to stick with playing outside and having fun.  We’re pretty active as a family and with the older kids all in sports, the little ones have been exposed to a lot of different games, and of course, they think they can play just as well as the big kids.

There we have it.  Next phase is to organize everything into a manageable schedule — that’s the fun part (I’m invoking Satan’s humor better known as sarcasm).  It seems like a lot doesn’t it?  Maybe I’m just a wimp.  Most days I totally love it.  Other days I have to trust myself that we truly felt like this was what Heavenly Father wanted for our family.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity.

our week in review — 20 may 2013

What a week.  School is coming to a close and we had recitals, concerts, and projects aplenty.  Taryn started finals and had her spring choir concert and ballroom dance recital on Saturday.  Greg couldn’t stop talking about the choir concert.  He said it was simply wonderful.  Taryn had her first ever solo and performed like a star.  Thomas had his singing group performance at the same time, so unfortunately, I missed it.

ImageI was able to catch her ballroom dance recital.  It was a ton of fun.  I have to admit, I am just a tad jealous.  We didn’t have anything like that where I went school.  Best part of the evening — she won the nightclub portion of the Jack and Jills.  Jack and Jills are when you get paired up with a random partner and have to dance a particular style.  For example, the leader calls out Tango, the music starts playing and you and your partner have to start dancing the tango — no choreography, no hearing the music in advance — just go.  There are about 12 couples or so on the dance floor and judges walk around scoring everyone.  Go Taryn — great job.

Hayden spent most of his week studying for finals and finishing up school projects.  His biggest project was for geometry.  He had to come up with a real life question that could be answered using geometry.  He went for how long would it take for our rabbit run to be completely filled with bunnies if two females had eight bunnies every eight weeks.  Man, I’m glad I done with geometry. 


Hailey’s big event was presenting her famous personal project to her classmates and their parents.  She was given Charles Schulz and did a wonderful job.  She created a poster as well as a clay model and then presented what she had learned dressed up as the man himself.  Good job Hailey.


Thomas and Hunter had a very big week.  School is wrapping up for us and we doubled up again on a few things to finish as quickly as possible.  I really need to do better planning next year.  Anyway, although we were busy with school, we still found time for play.  Life doesn’t get much better than playing in the irrigation in your panties.

ImageImageThe boys (with the exception of Hayden who was home studying) also had a wonderful time camping  Friday night at the fathers and sons campout.  They went fishing, slept under the stars and ate and ate and ate.  They were even able to eat the fish that Thomas caught. 

ImageImageImageThomas got home just in time to get ready for his musical group performance.  Bless his heart, when we got there I learned that he was the only boy in his class of like 40 girls.  Thankfully, his teacher LOVES him and he loves her.  She is affectionately known in our house as Princess Prince.  Sorry about the shakiness — Muffa was crawling all over me.  Hopefully, you won’t get too seasick.

We had a lot going on around the homestead as well.  The goats got taken to a breeder to be “freshened.”  If all goes well, we should have 4 to 6 little goats by October. 

In the garden, our first sunflower popped open and our pumpkins started to turn orange.

ImageImageTrying to keep the baby bunnies is their run was top of the project list.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be chicken wire enough to keep one little Houdini in his home. 

ImageThe North 40 project continues.  Greg was able to till up about a quarter of the front yard on Saturday.  Hopefully, phase one will be completed this week. 

ImageAnd that’s it.  Phew.  I get tired just reading over what we did.

Vegetable Oven Pancake


This is one of my favorite answers to the what do I make for dinner panics I seem to have frequently (note to self, will you please start meal planning — sheesh).  Anyway, it’s fast, it’s tasty, and filled with healthy vegetables.  The vegetables in the recipe can easily swapped out with ones that you like more or simply have on hand.  The original recipe is found at Taste of Home

Vegetable Oven Pancake

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

olive oil

2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets

1 cup sliced baby carrots

1 tomato chopped — I like the roma tomatoes sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

pepper, salt, and garlic powder to taste

1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place butter in a nine inch pie plate and place in oven until butter is melted.  Tilt pan to coat bottom and sides. 

Combine eggs, milk, and salt.  Add flour and beat until smooth.  Pour into pie plate and bake for 14 to 16 minutes.  It should puff up around the edges and turn a golden brown.

While it’s baking, saute your onion, broccoli, and carrots in olive oil.  When your broccoli is just slightly crunchy, add the tomato.  Season using salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  Cook for just a bit longer.  You don’t want your broccoli to get mushy.

By this time, your pancake should have finished baking.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese on the pancake.  Top with vegetables and remaining cheese.  Put back in the oven until cheese is melted, about 3 or 4 minutes.  All done.


Leftovers are super good reheated in the toaster oven for just a few minutes.  I know, totally white trash, but I love my toaster oven.  Enjoy.

lessons from muf

I was having one of those rough mornings when you realize you’re not really as good as you thought you were, and it seems like you’ll never be the person you know you should be.  I found myself in my room on my knees asking for the forgiveness, mercy, and peace that I knew could only come from God.

Muf wandered in and asked, “You praying by yourself mommy?”



“Sometimes I’m not very good.”

“Yeah, me either, sometimes I can’t read.  I need help.”

And there it it.  Sometimes we need help — all of us.  Help that comes from above.  Perhaps it’s time to cut everyone a little slack including ourselves.

our week in review

We just wrapped up a big week here at the Blissful Homestead — for the kids anyway.  Greg and I are boring.

Tanner rode off into the sunset on Friday to start a new adventure up in Utah.  He’ll be spending the summer in Draper selling pest control (if he knocks on your door, give him a hug for us).  Then he’ll head up to Logan in the fall to attend Utah State.  Go Aggies.  Funny, when he left for his mission we all cried like babies even though we knew it was temporary — two years temporary, but temporary just the same.  This time it’s more permanent.  The game plan is for him to go to school, get married, and start a family of his own.  And yet, no hugs, no tears, just a quick “see ya.”  Maybe it just doesn’t seem real yet.  I keep expecting the door to open any minute for his quick after school visit.  Anyway, Tanner’s outy.

Taryn had a pretty awesome week I must say.  She was elected Student Body Vice President.  Neat huh?  Just a few days later, her softball team took second place in the state championships.  They played hard and should be really proud of themselves.

ImageHayden cleared some land for us out in the North 40 — well, okay it was the front yard.  He and his friend, Colton, took out an ash tree with a little help from Tanner and Greg.



More to come on this project.  Soon the entire front yard will be covered in cow poop.  Our neighbors are going to LOVE us.

Hailey had her final flute concert of the season.  You’ll have to trust me that she did a great job.  Loser mom that I am, forgot my camera.

Thomas continues to do well in school.  We (okay really me) just want to get done so we are doubling up on a few subjects each day.  No complaints from him though.  One quick Thomas story — yesterday after the sacrament prayer was offered, he turned to me and asked — “Mommy, was that Jesus talking?”  The lady sitting next to him, patted him on the knee and said, “you just made my week.”  Wouldn’t it be great if we all pictured the Savior giving the sacramental prayers each Sunday.

Muffa was just Muffa and boy do we love him.  He is our sweet boy.  His awesome, awesome Primary teacher asked him to bring a picture of him and I to class this week so we took a couple of quickies.  This one is now displayed on my fridge complete with a popsicle stick frame.

ImageThis one I just love.  It’s a great Mothers’ Day shot.

ImageTruly it is a day for mothers to reflect on the amazing gift of motherhood that was brought to them by their children.  To Tanner, Taryn, Hayden, Hailey, Thomas and Muf — I love you all.  Thanks for loving me despite my many, many shortcomings.  I hope I don’t mess you up too badly.


what to do with all this zucchinni part 3 — orange zucchini bread


Once in a blue moon, I want something other than chocolate, and this totally hits the spot.  I love that I don’t have to feel super guilty eating it or giving a second piece to the kiddies. 

Orange Zucchini Bread — adapted from Our Best Bites

2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup evaporated cane juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup greek yogurt

4 drops orange essential oil (make sure it’s a high quality oil, I use Young Living)

3 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 8 inch loaf pans.

Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.


Beat oil, sugars, vanilla and eggs together for about 2 minutes.


Add yogurt and your essential oil.  You can also use the zest from one large orange.  Beat until just combined.


Stir in the zucchini, and then the flour mixture.  Stir only until combined.


Divide between 2 pans.  If you really have a sweet tooth, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.


Bake for 45 minutes.  Check with a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, they’re done, if not, put them back in the oven and recheck every 2 minutes or so. 

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.  Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before you try and remove the bread from the pans. 

ImageAbsolutely delicious — who knew zucchini could taste this good?  Oh, one thing I failed to mention is that shredded zucchini actually freezes pretty well.  Pull some out of the freezer in the middle of winter and enjoy a bit a your summer bounty.

what to do with all this zucchini part 2 — chocolate zucchini bread

Those mock crab cakes were good, but now it’s time to move over to the sweeter side of life. 


This is one of our family’s all time favorites.  It’s always a pleaser.  No one cares that’s made from whole wheat flour, healthy coconut oil, and packed with zucchini.  They like it because it tastes great. 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread — adapted from Our Best Bites

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup evaporated cane juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup greek yogurt or sour cream

3 cups shredded zucchini

3/4 cups chocolate chips


2 Tbs brown sugar

2 Tbs evaporated cane juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two 8 inch loaf pans.

Mix topping ingredients and set aside.


Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cocoa.  Set aside.


Chop up your chocolate chips so they are about the size of mini chocolate chips and toss them with about a tablespoon of the flour mixture.  (I was lazy and didn’t chop them up.  It actually made a difference.  Live and learn.)  Set them aside as well.


Beat oil, sugars, and eggs together for about 2 minutes.


Add the vanilla and yogurt.  Mix only until combined. 


Stir in the zucchini, and then the flour mixture.  Stir only until combined.  Add the chocolate chips. 




Divide evenly between your prepared pans and sprinkle both with the topping. 


Bake for 45 minutes and test with a toothpick.  Continue baking up to 60 minutes or until your toothpick comes out clean. 


Remove from oven and cool on racks for 5-10 minutes.  Do not remove bread from the pans yet — trust me on this one.  After the cooling period, remove from pans and continue to let them cool off or eat them right away.  On the odd chance you have any left over, they  freeze really well.

Oh and one quick note, when I made this batch for the pictures, I doubled the recipe.  As I said, we have A LOT of zucchini.


what to do with all this zucchini part 1 — mock crab cakes


Last fall we had zucchini coming out of our ears, so when spring rolled around, we decided to cut back on our zucchini plants.  We still have zucchini coming out of our ears.  Luckily, I’ve found some super good recipes that I’ll be sharing this week. 

The first one is for mock crab cakes.  I know it sounds weird, but stick with me.  I grew up in Maryland, and if there is one thing Marylanders are proud of, it’s their crabs.  I had to be proud of them vicariously as I’ve never been a huge fan of any kind of seafood.  I can’t say for sure that these actually taste like crab cakes, but what I can say is that they are super delicious.

The recipe comes originally from Annie at Montana Solar Creations.  I didn’t change it a bit.

Zucchini Mock Crab Cakes

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 Tbs minced onion (okay, actually, I think I used a bit more, I like onion — a lot)

2 eggs

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning — this is the key ingredient for sure

1 cup bread crumbs

Mix the eggs and seasonings.  Pour over the zucchini, onion, and bread crumbs.  If it’s too moist, add some additional bread crumbs. 


Form into patties and fry in oil.  I used coconut oil, but olive oil would work as well. 


That’s it.  Easy and yummy. 


I’ve heard the freeze well, and I was hoping to try, but the whole batch got eaten.  Thankfully, I have about a bazillion more zucchinis in my garden.